Gates to plead guilty

ABC News: Former Trump aide tells loved ones of plans to plead guilty, cooperate with special counsel

President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign aide Richard Gates has told family and close friends in a letter sent this morning he plans to plead guilty Friday in the special counsel’s criminal case against him, setting up the potential for Gates to become the latest well-informed Trump insider to assist in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential contest, according to sources close to the matter.

In the letter obtained by ABC News, Gates writes to family and friends “despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart,” Gates explained. “The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”

Gates is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Friday to face reduced charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal agents, according to a new court filing.

One could assume that the strength of the case against him had a part to play in his decision. It seems unlikely Gates would plead guilty if he was not guilty.

The potential for a guilty plea could dramatically change the dynamics in the investigation, just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller added a raft of new financial and tax charges to the criminal case against Gates and his longtime colleague, Paul Manafort.

It depends on what Gates tells the investigators beyond the charges he faces, in  particular if he provides information about contacts between the trump campaign and Russians intent in interfering in US elections.

7 Comments

  1. David

     /  February 24, 2018

    Gates was working with Manafort and for the Ukranian government, nothing once again to do with Russia and collusion.
    One needs really really deep pockets and balls of steel to take on the corrupt american justice system, so many people cop a lesser charge do their time and move on because the alternative is ruinous legal costs and potentially decades and decades in prison.

  2. David

     /  February 24, 2018

    I actually hope Trump pardons anyone caught up in the Mueller thing that is charged with offences unconnected to Russia and collusion.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 24, 2018

      Funnily enough David, I agree with you. I hope trump uses his pardoning powers – because if he does, it’s very likely to backfire bigly. It would be the stupidest thing he’s done yet and could well lead directly to his impeachment.

      If someone like Flynn or Kushner were pardoned, he wouldn’t be able to plead the 5th Amendment if he were called to testify against Trump. The Fifth Amendment protects citizens against self-incrimination. But if someone has been pardoned, they no longer face the threat of prosecution, and so they can’t use a desire to avoid incriminating themselves as an excuse not to answer a question.

      As well, many offenses — including some of the financial crimes included in the Manafort indictment — are also crimes under state law. The President can pardon only for federal offenses, and defendants counting on a blanket pardon may find that it does not cover all potential prosecutions. That’s why Mueller has been working closely with NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

      New York is the key state for Mueller because New York has jurisdiction over many alleged or potentially uncovered trump–Russia crimes (conspiracy to hack/soliciting stolen goods/money laundering, etc.), and Schneiderman and New York district attorneys are not constrained from pursuing charges that trump pardons for. Just to be sure, Mueller’s kept other charges out of his indictments so that New York could bring them.

      All of this legal background is relevant to solving an additional problem: If trump fires Mueller, state prosecutors can carry on with his investigation and prosecutions based on parallel state laws.

      Then there’s another elephant in the room. If he were to pardon Kushner or Manafort or Flynn, presumably that pardon would extend to the Russia investigation because that is what concerns trump. If — and this is a big if — the president is shown to have pardoned them to avoid his own personal exposure in the Russia investigation, that in and of itself constitutes obstruction of justice.

      Trump’s pardon of Arpaio has already demonstrated that he’s not above subverting the judicial process to reward those who stay loyal to him. Other pardons would be the icing on the cake as far as obstruction of justice goes.

      If Congress doesn’t like the president’s use of the pardon, its legal remedy is impeachment, although it could also hold hearings to embarrass him.

      So hell yeah! Pardons all round. Bring it on!

  3. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 24, 2018

    An interesting aspect to the Gates and Manafort indictments is that Mueller is investigating conduct before trump became a public official.

    To trump, the indictments dont implicate him; they incriminate Obama. Hence his order to Sessions to launch an investigation into why Obama didn’t do more. This ignores that Obama sanctioned four Russian individuals, five agencies including the GRU, expelled 35 diplomats, and closed two vacation compounds. Compared to trump doing nothing…

    But in 1962, Congress extended the bribery law to cover activity prior to the assumption of office. It did so in order to close a “loophole” afforded those “who assume public office under a corrupt commitment.”

    The upshot of that is that trump became covered by 18 USC not when he was sworn in but as of July 21, 2016 when he became his party’s nominee in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Title 18 United States Code, section 201 specifically makes it a crime for a public official to take “anything of value,” a bribe, in exchange for government action, which can be prospective.

    Following the June 2016 meeting at trump tower, trump got a systematic effort to undermine his opponent on social media, and, according to US intelligence, a successful hacking by Russian military intelligence of the DNC servers and Podesta’s emails which were handed over to Wikileaks to be published.

    Following that meeting Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin lawyer who was at the meeting, suddenly won a favorable settlement in her money-laundering court case after Trump’s election. She and other Russians also gained relief from the Magnitsky Act, which imposed severe monetary sanctions on senior Russian officials.

    And during the transition, Flynn told a Russia official to just hold tight and not overreact to Obama’s sanctions because help in the form of a trump presidency was on the way. So it has come to pass. Congress overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Russia. But trump’s done nothing.

    Everything Mueller’s done to date has been consistent with 18 USC. This bribery angle may be the one that ultimately takes trump down.

  4. Mefrostate

     /  February 24, 2018

    Five more counts against Manafort today too. Mueller putting the pressure on hard for him to flip.